The call number given in a catalog entry provides information about the specific location of a book or other library material within a library's collection. This information is important for users who want to find and use specific items in the library.
In this article, we will explore what call numbers are, how they are created, and what information they provide to library users. We will also discuss the different types of call numbers used in libraries and how they can be used to locate materials within a library's collection.
What Is a Call Number?
A call number is a combination of letters and numbers that serves as a unique identifier for a specific item in a library's collection. It is usually printed on a label attached to the spine or front cover of a book, and it is used to shelve the book in its proper location within the library.
Call numbers are based on a classification system that organizes books and other materials into subject areas. The most widely used classification system in libraries is the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), which assigns a unique call number to each book based on its subject matter.
The call number is made up of several parts, each of which provides specific information about the book. The exact format of the call number can vary depending on the classification system used by the library, but it usually includes the following elements:
Class Number: This is the first part of the call number, and it identifies the broad subject area of the book. In the Dewey Decimal Classification system, for example, the class number for books about philosophy is 100.
Cutter Number: This is the second part of the call number, and it is used to further identify the book within its subject area. It is usually based on the author's last name, but it can also be based on the title or other identifying information.
Date: Some call numbers include a date to distinguish between different editions or versions of a book.
Volume Number: For multi-volume works, each volume is assigned a separate call number that includes a volume number.
Copy Number: In some libraries, each copy of a book is assigned a unique copy number to distinguish it from other copies.
What Information Does a Call Number Provide?
The call number provides several pieces of information that are useful for library users. First and foremost, it tells users where to find a specific item within the library's collection. By looking up the call number in the library's catalog, users can determine the location of the item on the shelves.
In addition to its location, the call number can also provide information about the subject matter of the book. By examining the class number and cutter number, users can get a sense of the book's subject area and how it relates to other materials in the library's collection.
The call number can also be used to identify different editions or versions of a book. By looking at the date or volume number in the call number, users can determine whether they are looking at the most recent version of a book or an earlier edition.
Types Of Call Numbers
There are several different types of call numbers used in libraries, each of which is based on a different classification system. The most widely used systems include the Dewey Decimal Classification, the Library of Congress Classification (LCC), and the National Library of Medicine Classification (NLMC).
The Dewey Decimal Classification system is used by many public and school libraries, and it organizes materials into 10 broad subject areas, each of which is assigned a three-digit class number. Within each subject area, books are further divided into narrower subject categories using a combination of numbers and letters.
The Library of Congress Classification system is used by most academic libraries in the United States, and it organizes materials into 21 broad subject areas, each of which is assigned a two-letter class
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